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As early as in 1955, the Chinese government promulgated the Interim Regulations of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Concerning Awards for Achievements in Sciences to reward major scientific and technological achievements. In 1984, the government established the Awards for Scientific and Technological Progress. In May 1999, China established five awards, including the National Top Science and Technology Award, National Award for Natural Sciences, and National Award for Technical Invention.


The 2003 National Top Science and Technology Award was presented by President Hu Jintao at the Great Hall of the People to Liu Dongsheng, the geologist, and Wang Yongzhi, the aerospace scientist, both senior and highly respected members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Each man received a cash prize of 5 million yuan (US$602,000). Liu Dongsheng, now 87, is known for his varied and extensive research and for his pioneering contributions in recognizing and using terrestrial sediments to understand global environmental change. Wang Yongzhi, now 72 years old, has been dedicated to developing China's aerospace program for the past 43 years. He not only played a role in the first- and second-generation rocket launches as a carrier rocket designer, but for the past 11 years has been chief designer of China's first manned space project.


Local governments and non-governmental organizations have also established scientific and technological awards. Besides, some enterprises, institutions, mass organizations and individuals both at home and abroad have established regular scientific and technological awards using non-governmental funds or funds raised by themselves. These awards are set up especially for individuals directly engaged in scientific and technological research, therefore they help to fire the scientists with enthusiasm for conducting scientific and technological invention. Currently such awards that have been approved by the relevant state departments include Du Pont prize for scientific and technological innovation, Li Siguang prize for geology, Zhan Tianyou prize for civil engineering, GM (General Motors Corporation) prize for China's scientific and technological achievements, and Bayer prize for young scientists.


China also has an annual China International Science and Technology Cooperation Award that in March 2004 was awarded to the American mathematician Shing-TungYau, German economist Juergen Voegele, Japanese medical scientist Yutaka Mizushima and Italian entrepreneur Elio Matacena. Created in 1994, the China International Science and Technology Cooperation Award has been awarded to 35 recipients from 12 countries.

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